Exploring Subverbal Interactions in Everyday Life and in Therapy: Gestures and Their Meanings

Ruella FrankEach facial and bodily gesture we make expresses an important meaning, and demonstrates how we experience ourselves within our world. When fully felt and understood, they tell us something we had not known about ourselves in our relationships or that we knew, but now see more clearly.

During this workshop, we learn how our gestures form complex negotiations with others. They are the pathway to what has gone on in our earlier histories, what they entail for this present moment, and what they anticipate for the future. Aside from their communicative dimensions, gestures don’t merely express thinking, gestures are thoughts forming in the phenomenal field. Once aware of their meanings, we have the capacity to change our habitual and rigid gestural patterns in relation – patient-therapist, partner-partner, employer-employee, teacher-student – to more spontaneous and free exchanges.


Ruella Frank, PhD, brings many years of experience to her work as a Gestalt psychotherapist – as a professional dancer and choreographer, yoga practitioner, student of various movement theories/therapies, and student of Laura Perls, co-founder of Gestalt therapy. Ruella is the originator of Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy, founder and director of the Center for Somatic Studies, faculty at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, guest faculty at Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy, and adjunct faculty at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto; she teaches throughout the United States, Europe, Eurasia, Mexico, South America, and Canada. She is the author of articles and chapters in various publications and the book Body of Awareness: A Somatic and Developmental Approach to Psychotherapy (2001, GestaltPress, available in four languages), the co-author of The First Year and the Rest of Your Life: Movement, Development, and Psychotherapeutic Change (2010, Routledge Press, available in three languages), and the author of The Bodily Roots of Experience in Psychotherapy (2022, Routledge Press, available in seven languages). Her video Introduction to Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy is available in three languages. www.somaticstudies.com

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